A Texas appeals court recently waded into a sibling rivalry between a brother and sister who were named co-executors of their mother’s estate. The brother convinced a trial court to disqualify the sister as “unsuitable” under state probate law. But the court of appeals reversed, noting, “We have found no authority suggesting that family discord alone is enough to determine that a person appointed in a will to serve as executor is unsuitable.”
Yet family discord is why it was probably inadvisable for the mother in this case to name both children as co-executors. While you always have the right to ask more than one person to serve as executor, doing so can lead to serious disagreements and ultimately litigation. This costs your estate time and money.
If you appoint co-executors, each has equal and joint responsibility for administering your estate. Both co-executors may also be liable for damages if they mismanage estate assets — for example, allowing a house owned by the estate to fall into foreclosure. And if one co-executor is not fulfilling his or her duties, the other may have to take legal action to remove them.
Whether you name one or two executors, you must consult with a competent estate planning attorney who can advise you on the best way to setup your Will. Your attorney can help you identify the best person or persons to serve as your executor and draft a Will that can minimize potential conflicts or the likelihood of future litigation.
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